How to Hem Pants – 3 Easiest Ways for Beginners

@media (max-width: 1200px) { }

body .novashare-buttons.novashare-inline .novashare-button-icon { width: 100%; }

Share this Article:

TwitterFacebookPinterestPrint

body .novashare-pinterest-image{display:block;position:relative;margin:0;padding:0;line-height:0}figure>.novashare-pinterest-image{height:100%;width:100%}body .wp-block-image .novashare-pinterest-image+figcaption{display:block}body .novashare-pinterest-image-button{opacity:0;transition:.3s;position:absolute;height:18px;max-height:18px;width:auto!important;padding:10px;cursor:pointer;background:#c92228;color:#fff;font-size:16px;line-height:18px;z-index:1;text-decoration:none;box-sizing:content-box;top:50%;left:50%;transform:translate(-50%,-50%)}body .novashare-pinterest-image-button:hover{background:#b51f24}body .novashare-pinterest-image-button:visited{color:#fff}body .novashare-pinterest-image:hover .novashare-pinterest-image-button{opacity:1}body .novashare-pinterest-image-button svg{width:18px;height:18px;vertical-align:middle;pointer-events:none}

Learn how to hem pants perfectly with or without a sewing machine. Regardless of whether you are sewing pants from scratch or altering a store-bought pair, this tutorial will give great results for all sewing levels. I even give you a no-sew option!

Buying new pants and then not being able to shorten them is frustrating.  If it feels like a daunting exercise just stop for a moment and read through these simple instructions on how to hem pants.

How to Hem Pants, Hemming PantsPinHow to Hem Pants, Hemming Pants

Contents

How to Hem Pants TutorialSupplies for Hemming Pants3 Ways How to Hem Pants for BeginnersHow to Hem Pants Step by Step InstructionsStep 1 – Determine the Correct Pants LengthStep 2 – Mark the Finished LengthStep 3 – Check Both Pant Legs are EvenStep 4 – Press the Pants HemStep 5 – Add the Hem Seam Allowance and CutStep 6 – Finishing Raw EdgesStep 7 – How to Hem Pants & What is the Best StitchingHow to Hem Pants with a Sewing MachineStraight Stitch and Double HemBlind Hem StitchHow to Hem Pants by HandHow to Hem Pants with a Hand Slip StitchHow to Hem Pants with a Hand Running StitchHow to Shorten Pants Without Sewing (Hemming Tape)How to Hem Pants and Keep the Original Bottom HemStep 1 – Mark the Desired New LengthStep 2 – Mark the Length GuideStep 3 – Stitch the Original HemStep 4 – Fold and Trim ExcessHow to Hem Pants – In ConclusionMore Hem ArticlesHems on Clothing

How to Hem Pants Tutorial

You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it really is to learn how to hem pants and put up the hem neatly and professionally. 

Supplies for Hemming Pants

PAIR OFPANTS – The essential item to shorten and hem.SEWING BASIC SUPPLIES – including pins, measuring tape, and scissors. You will also need a ruler and some tailor`s chalk or something to mark the fabric with. THREAD – Use a matching thread color.IRON and ironing board. A presser cloth is recommended if your pants have polyester or synthetic fibers in them. You don`t want scorched or melted pants. NEEDLE and matching thread.SEWINGMACHINE if you plan to sew the hem by machine.HEMMING TAPE if you are going to fuse the hem for a no-sew option.SEAM RIPPER if you need to remove stitches from an old hem.OPTIONAL – Hem gauge

3 Ways How to Hem Pants for Beginners

Three different techniques will be explained in the steps to hem pants.

Machine StitchedHand StitchedNo-Sew

How to Hem Pants Step by Step Instructions

Step 1 – Determine the Correct Pants Length

Put the pants on with the pair of shoes or heels you will most likely wear with the pants.Stand in front of a full-length mirror that will reflect the bottom of the pants so you can see what it looks like.Fold up the hem to the required length. 

Where Should a Pants Hem Sit?

Different people have different ideas of the finished length but generally, the hem should sit just on the top of the shoe line – not ankle length and not floor length.

Should I Wash Pants Before Hemming?

Always wash new pants to be hemmed first in case they shrink. You don`t want to hem the pants only to have them shrink later. This is especially important for cotton fabrics and jeans.

Step 2 – Mark the Finished Length

Your cuff should be turned up to your finished desired length. This is the finished length of the pants without any hem allowances.

Pin along the bottom fold to mark the finished length. When you are satisfied that you have the desired length then remove the pants for the next step.

The pins are just used as an easy method to transfer markings to the inside.

TIP: If you are measuring someone else then have them stand on a table so you don’t have to break your back to do the alteration.

Mark the Finished Hem LengthMark the Finished Hem LengthPinMark the Finished Hem Length

Step 3 – Check Both Pant Legs are Even

Turn the pants to the inside. Lay them flat on a table and just adjust the pins and the length so both sides are the same.

Step 4 – Press the Pants Hem

Take the pants to the ironing board and use a presser cloth to press in the crease of the fold line where the finished length will be. This crease line is very important as it will be the fold of the hem.Remove the pins.

I have used a chalked line to mark this more clearly in the photos but the crease should be enough of a marking for you.

Use a presser cloth because pants can be made of fabric that does not enjoy a hot iron. Often the pants will go shiny if you place the hot iron on them directly.

Mark the Finished Hem LengthMark the Finished Hem LengthPinMark the Finished Hem Length

Step 5 – Add the Hem Seam Allowance and Cut

Now is your chance to use your tailor`s chalk and your ruler.

Open up the pants on the wrong side and draw the crease line with the tailor’s chalk.Now add a hem allowance and mark that below your hemline. How much you add will depend on how you are going to sew or finish the hem.

If you are unsure how much to add then add 1 inch (2.5cm) so you can do a double folded hem. This is the most common hem found on pants.

How to Hem Pants - Adding the hem allowanceHow to Hem Pants - Adding the hem allowancePinHow to Hem Pants – Adding the hem allowance

What Width Hem Allowance to Add When Hemming Dress Pants

Here are the best widths to use for the hem allowance:

Double Fold Hem – Add 1 inch (2.5cm) for the hem allowance. A double fold hem is folded twice to enclose the raw edges and stop them from fraying. This can be stitched by hand or machine and is the most common type of hem. Blind Hem – Add 2 inches (5cm) for hem allowance. A blind hem is sewn with a special presser foot or by hand and is best for when you want a wider invisible hem.Hemming Tape – Add the amount of the tape. Most tapes are ¾ inch (2cm). Hemming tape is a fusible tape that you iron to activate the glue. It does not require any type of sewing.

TIP: If you had a lot of fabric to trim off the original hem it would be a safe option to trim some to get rid of the bulk and then return to step one and double-check that you are happy with the length. Better to cut off too little than cut off too much where there’s no turning back!

Now you have marked the hem, you are ready to cut away the excess fabric. Just to be clear, you will cut on the lower marked line.

How to Hem Pants - Cutting ExcessHow to Hem Pants - Cutting ExcessPinHow to Hem Pants – Cutting Excess

Step 6 – Finishing Raw Edges

If you are going to sew a double fold hem (hem folded over twice) there is no need to finish the raw edge since it will be tucked in the fold.

For a single fold hem (hem folded once) you should finish the raw edge with a serger, zig-zag stitch or even pinking shears. This will prevent it from fraying.

Step 7 – How to Hem Pants & What is the Best Stitching

Have your pants the wrong way out and now it is time to decide what kind of hem you would like to create.

There are three choices to make:

Machine hem – Uses a sewing machine. Hand-stitched/rolled hem – Uses a hand sewing needle and thread. Hemming Tape – No sewing required.

What Is the Best Stitch For Hemming Pants?

The best stitch for hemming pants is a machine straight stitch with a medium-length or if you are hand sewing, then it is a slip stitch. These stitches will give you a durable and professional-looking new pants hem.

How to Hem Pants with a Sewing Machine

If you choose to use your machine to hem pants then see if your machine has a detachable free arm function. The leg of the pants will be easier to manage on the machine if you do.

The 2 most common ways to machine stitch a hem is with either a straight stitch or a blind hem.

Straight Stitch and Double Hem

Press the raw edge of the new hem up by ¼ inch (6mm).Press it up again by ¾ inch (2cm) to create a double fold.Pin the hem in place. Check your pins are pointing down the leg for better control of the fabric.Using a matching thread, start sewing the hem from the inner leg seam. Backstitch well at the end. Give your hem a final press.

Read more about how to sew a double fold hem.

How to Hem Pants with a Straight StitchHow to Hem Pants with a Straight StitchPinHow to Hem Pants with a Straight Stitch

Blind Hem Stitch

Some machines have a ‘blind hem’ stitch if you would prefer not to see the line of stitching. When sewn with a matching thread, all you see from the outside are very small vertical stitches.

Full tutorial on how to sew a blind hem. You will need a blind hem foot which has a guide on the side. This comes with most machines. For a successful blind hem, you press your hem and then fold the hem section back under the leg of the pants leaving a small part of the folded hem edge to sew on.  Sew on the fold of the hem (it will be the top of the hem) and as you stitch the straight stitch is worked on the hem and the little catch stitch nips over into the fabric. Your machine will have a specific stitch for this. Open the hem after sewing and press flat.  The stitches can hardly be seen especially if you use matching thread.

How to Hem Pants with a Blind Hem StitchHow to Hem Pants with a Blind Hem StitchPinHow to Hem Pants with a Blind Hem Stitch

How to Hem Pants by Hand

If you don`t have a sewing machine, you can learn how to hem pants with a simple sewing needle and thread.

Have matching cotton and a threaded needle ready. Most fabrics can be sewn with sharps which are all-purpose sewing needles. These come quite cheaply in packets of assorted sizes.

The main method used to hem pants by hand is the slip stitch or for absolute beginners, the running stitch.

How to Hem Pants with a Hand Slip Stitch

Full slip stitch tutorialPress the raw edge of the hem up by ¼ inch (6mm)Press it up again by ¾ inch (2cm) to create a double foldPin the hem in place. Thread your needle with a knot at the end. Start by coming up in the fold of the hem so the knot is hidden. Working right to left, take a few threads of the fabric at the edge of the hem. Take the needle diagonally along the fold of the hem at a distance of ¼ inch (6mm)Repeat.

How to Hem Pants with Slip StitchHow to Hem Pants with Slip StitchPinHow to Hem Pants with Slip Stitch

How to Hem Pants with a Hand Running Stitch

Running stitch will show a bit on the outside of the pants but it is by far the easiest stitch for those of you that have not sewn before.

Full running stitchPress the raw edge of the hem up by ¼ inch (6mm)Press it up again by ¾ inch (2cm) to create a double foldPin the hem in place.Thread your needle with a knot at the end. Start by coming up in the fold of the hem so the knot is hidden.Sew the hem along the top of the fold with an up and down motion. The smaller the stitches, the stronger your line of stitching will be.

PinHow to Hem Pants with Running Stitch

How to Shorten Pants Without Sewing (Hemming Tape)

This is a very easy option for softer fabrics that don’t need strong enduring hems. Hemming tape or hem tape can be purchased from fabric and craft stores as well as many supermarkets.

Cut your pants the desired length making sure you have enough extra for the hem. Finish the edge with a zig-zag or serger or leave it raw. If you are looking for a no-sew hemming option then you will most likely leave it raw. The tape will stop some fraying anyway. You simply cut your double-sided hemming tape to fit the hem and slide it between the pants and the measured hem then press with a hot iron to fuse the tape.Do not press directly onto the fabric in case your fabric is not up to a hot iron. Instead, you can use a pressing cloth in between the iron and your pants.

PinHow to Hem Pants with Hemming Tape

How to Hem Pants and Keep the Original Bottom Hem

If you have a pair of pants with especially attractive or unique stitching, you may want to keep the original hem. This method is particularly popular for jeans where it is hard to replicate the color and thickness of the stitching on the original hem.

Step 1 – Mark the Desired New Length

Try on the pants and fold up a cuff to your new desired length.

Mark the edge of this fold with pins so you can transfer the marking to the wrong side.

Pin

Open the hem carefully and use the tailor`s chalk to mark along the pin line on the right side of the pants. Remove the pins.

Pin

Step 2 – Mark the Length Guide

Mark ABOVE the pin line. (This is the opposite to the double fold hem method where we marked below the pin line.)

Mark 1 inch (2.5cm) above the marked pin line for jeans with a ½ inch (12mm) original hem. Mark 1.5 inches (4cm) above the marked pin line for jeans with a ¾ inch (2cm) original hem.

Pin

Fold up the cuff again so the original hem touches this second (yellow) line.

Pin

Step 3 – Stitch the Original Hem

Using a straight stitch, sew just below (but not on) the original hem line on the free arm of your sewing machine. Go slow over any thicker side seams.

Pin

Step 4 – Fold and Trim Excess

With the pants the wrong way out, press the excess fabric up. Press the stitched seam above the hem well so it lies flat.

If this is a small fold, you are all finished. For larger folds you may want to trim and finish the raw edge. If the fold is large and you don`t cut excess, another alternative is to put a couple of hand stitches in the sides to stop it from falling down.

Pin

Here is what your finished original hem looks like on the outside. When worn, that seam is almost unnoticeable.

Pin

How to Hem Pants – In Conclusion

Putting up the hem of pants is really an easy process. Now you know how to hem pants there is no excuse for having pants that are the wrong length.

More Hem Articles

GENERAL HEMS – How to Sew a Hem (This is the best article to read if you are not sure what kind of hem you need. It gives a rundown of all the most common types)NARROW HEMS – Sew a Narrow HemROLLED HEM FOOT – How to Use a Rolled Hem FootWIDE HEMS – How to Sew Wide HemsCIRCULAR HEMS – How to Sew Round HemsBLIND HEMS – How to Sew a Blind HemRUFFLED HEMS – Lettuce HemsKNIT FABRIC HEMS – How to Hem Knit Fabric, Catch StitchKNIT HEMS – Twin NeedleSQUARE HEMS – How to Sew Mitered CornersHAND HEMS – Hemming StitchNO SEW HEMS – How to Use Hemming TapeSIMPLE HEMS – Single Fold HemsDOUBLE HEMS – Double Fold HemsBIAS – Bias Tape HemsSCALLOPS – Scalloped EdgesINVISIBLE HEMS – Blind Hem Stitch

Hems on Clothing

Hemming a DressHem a SkirtHemming Pants

4.8/5 – (36 votes)